Doctor: West End child dies of rare strep-infection

Posted at 1:23 PM, Feb 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-23 15:07:53-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Doctors said Wednesday that the type of strep that killed a four-year-old boy in the West End is extremely rare.

In fact, only between 1,000 and 2,000 Americans die from the infection each year.

That's a small number compared to the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of cases of strep reported each year.

Henrico County Health Department's Dr. William Nelson said the little boy died from a rare, fast-moving, invasive strep that attacks vital organs.

“I wish there were an easy way to explain it. It is just truly a tragedy. Everyone did everything they could. This is just unfortunate,” said Nelson.

The boy attended Kids in Discovery preschool in the West End. According to the school, the boy was home sick for four days before succumbing.

“We are all suffering. Our community is suffering at the profound loss of this beautiful little boy,” said Preschool Director Tamera Pegg. [CLICK HERE: Read the school's complete statement]

The Health Department sent a document home to parents of children at the school. In the letter,  Nelson alerts parents to call your doctor if your child shows symptoms like throat pain, fever and headache.

“It is not highly contagious," said Nelson. "The average person should not be alarmed at this point. A parent or family member can do everything right. It is just very bad luck and it’s a tragedy when that happens.”

Doctors said the type invasive bacteria that killed the four-year-old boy is extremely rare.

However, Nelson urges parents to take precautions like washing hands and call your doctor immediately if you notice symptoms of strep throat.

News of the boy's death has parents worried about their children’s safety. If Ashley Moore's daughter sniffles or sneezes new mom, she can worry herself sick.

“I worry about Eden a lot,” said Moore. “This morning she woke up with a runny nose – and I said how did this happen. Who did she get this from?”

Moore's heart aches for the parents of the little boy who died Saturday from strep.

“I can’t imagine losing a child and especially in that situation,” she said.